1 Jul 2005

Tuvalu says pro-whaling stance not linked to Japan funds

4:01 pm on 1 July 2005

The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Maatia Toafa, says his country received no extra money from Japan for its pro-whaling vote at last week's highly charged International Whaling Commission meeting.

Tuvalu, Nauru, Solomon Islands and Kiribati were targets of intense lobbying -- and some criticism -- by anti-whaling New Zealand and Australia, which won key votes at the meeting.

Mr Toafa says Nauru, an IWC newcomer, bore the brunt of criticism that once went to Tuvalu.

But he rejects claims Tuvalu was bought by Japan.

He says Tuvalu receives funds from Japan for infrastructure development, but has not had a cent more since it joined the IWC.

"But the main thing, down the bottom line, is the sustainable harvesting of all marine resources, including whales. And this is why Tuvalu voted --- this is the position for Tuvalu. I'm not saying that we're supporting Japan, but we are more of less in the middle saying that there is a need for harvesting of all marine resources, but it should be at a sustainable level."

Maatia Toafa says Tuvalu is not convinced the whale take planned by Japan is unsustainable.

And he says Australia, which hasn't signed the Kyoto Protocol, cares more for whales than for people in low-lying areas of the Pacific.